Transitioning from Mechanical to Electronic Locks

What is involved when customer wants to change from metal keys to electronic access control?

As security evolves away from traditional keys and locks as the primary means of authorizing and denying entry, electrically operated hardware and self contained access controls are taking their place. Supplying and installing ‘electric locks and access control is a growing revenue stream for locksmiths.

I got a call from a local government agency to come survey for an upgrade to electronic access control. When I arrived, I was somewhat disappointed to learn that they had solicited proposals for electronic access a few months ago and the project had already been awarded. The winning bidder had not included the locking hardware and that is what they wanted for us to quote them. If we had bid the entire job, the client would have received a ‘turnkey’ price which would have included everything, and the project would probably have been completed by now.


A thorough site survey is the first and most important step towards the successful project.

By doing a good survey you will be able to properly advise the client, specify the correct electrical locking product on the first try and avoid do-overs and wasted time later. You can also hopefully spot other problems with worn hinges, leaky door closers, or inappropriate lock functions.

This job involved nine openings, and none of them had any electrical locking hardware presently installed.

Upon examination of the doors and frames all were in relatively good working order. Doors either had rim exit devices or cylindrical locks. Some of the doors were “labeled” a/k/a fire rated. So my quote indicated that I was calling out special electric locks for those openings. Sometimes fire-rated doors are used on a construction project even if they are not required by the building code. Sometimes the occupancy of the building changes (how the building is being used). Sometimes the building code becomes more stringent. By observing the law and specifying fire listed locks, I am indemnifying myself against a wrong supposition. I always insist that the client review the planned work with the Fire Marshal before I accept a project.

NOTE: The other important element of this upgrade is the power supply for the locking devices. See the accompanying article in this issue which provides an overview of power supply products and a discussion of how to select the right one for your project.

HES 9400, 9500 & 9600 SERIES

Upgrading doors with rim type exit devices and in some cases surface mounted vertical rod exit devices is relatively painless with the use of one of HES 9400, 9500 & 9600 Series electric strikes. (The 9400, 9500 and 9600 do not work with vertical rods.)

These devices all share common features, making them convenient to install and power. They are surface-mounted, requiring only three holes two for mounting and one for wiring – and all are suitable for wood or metal frames.

An additional hole is required for the recommended lockdown. Once the strike has been installed and aligned for proper operation, the lockdown screw prevents the strike from shifting on the frame.

HES offers a five- year mechanical warranty and by using their 2005M Smart Pac II voltage regulator, a five year electrical warranty as well.

The HES #9400, #9500 and #9600 are all UL1034 listed for burglary resistance, and all are ANSI/BHMA A156.31 Grade 1 rated.

Differences between the models are that the #9500 is fire-rated (UL 10C fire-rated, 1-1/2 hour (fail secure only), and the #9400 is the newly designed slim line version which is ½” thick.

Both the #9500 and the #9600 are ¾” thick and are designed for use with up to a ¾” Pullman latch. The ½” thick #9400 will only work with up to a ½” latch.

Reminder: During the site survey, it is imperative that you determine whether the opening is labeled (fire-rated) and also accurately measure the horizontal dimension between the head of the rim exit device and the door frame.

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